The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., handle 40% of containerized imports entering the United States. Typically, only a few container ships are “at anchor,” waiting to dock. On October 29, there were 75 waiting for their turn. Addressing these concerns, the White House is launching a Supply Chain Dashboard to turn the tide in the country’s favor. Will it be enough? Supply chain expert Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD, president of LMA Consulting Group Inc., predicts supply chain disruption will continue beyond 2024.
“The supply chain disruption is real and will last for quite some time,” Anderson says. “Let’s look at the ‘why’ of the disruption. If you remove industry nuances, there are three main causes of the disruption. The first cause is labor. The pandemic exacerbated the ongoing drain of skilled ‘boomer’ workers, many of whom took early retirement. The pandemic also caused workers to reassess their priorities. That resulted in people deciding that they didn’t like their industry or job or their boss. This has manifested into what many are calling the Great Resignation. Manufacturing, transportation, distribution, none of these industries are exempt. And, most of these industries affect the consumer, who has felt the supply chain pinch the worst.”
Anderson is correct—no industry is exempt. The glass and glazing industry has felt the effects by way of the construction industry. Perhaps The White House’s new Supply Chain Dashboard will help companies stay up-to-date. The dashboard will be updated bi-weekly, tracking port progress in Los Angeles, Long Beach and more. The administration partially attributes the high number of ships at anchor on October 29 to consumer demand for goods and delta-related port and factory shutdowns in Asia. Tracking ships at anchor, cumulative import volume and retail inventories, the Biden-Harris Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force aims “to act as an honest broker to encourage companies, workers, and others to stop finger-pointing and start collaborating.”
Anderson’s company, LMA Consulting Group, works with manufacturers and distributors on strategy during these puzzling times. She says the most expensive reason for supply chain disruptions is a shortage of equipment in various sectors, including construction, farming, food processing and technology. What is the end game—is there one?
“It all comes down to creating a never-ending supply chain circle, almost like the supply chain is chasing its proverbial tail,” Anderson adds. “I don’t see that this is easily solvable by initiating new laws or enticing workers with more money. Sure, it can help, but it’s not an easy fix. It will take recognizing that there may be no new normal. Essentially, the supply chain will be in a constant state of evolution. The successful manufacturers will be adaptive, resilient and forward-thinking as they respond to changes in demand and recognize an ever-evolving supply chain.”